8/20/14 Manestay Stables, near Lowville, NY; state #35
When I pulled into camp, Jerry met me on his tractor and led me to the camping area, backed my trailer in for me (agreeing that its a bitch to back and slow to turn), and sat and talked for a long time. He has a colorful history; a corrections officer, drug dog trainer, Clinton Anderson horse trainer…and a horrible horse wreck that nearly killed his wife about 18 years ago. He saved her life and has taken care of her ever since…such devotion makes me want to cry. He worked with Tommy a little bit and said he’d be a great drug dog, did I want to trade a dog for him, to which of course I said no, I love him.
There are 2 other women camping here now until Thursday. They were dropped off with the horses by their trainer, they do this every year. No vehicle with them, camping in a pop up trailer and riding. One near to my age, one much younger, not sure if they are related.
In bed I heard a wolf howling, so did Tommy who would not stop growling till he left. Jerry said there are a ton of dangerous wildlife here for dogs and to not take Tommy on the trail. Wolves, wolverines, bears, cougars, porcupines. So Tommy has to stay safe in the trailer when I ride.
I slept great after I iced my aching back. Today I got up at 6, fed & mucked, played around trying to get internet (failed mostly) and am looking at my day ahead of me: paint the MA painting, 1:00 vet checks (she is going to check vaccination requirements in my next 30 days worth of states for me, so nice), 3:00 truck service, groceries and hopefully get a pain prescription filled. My spine Dr in CA may call in something to the Walmart pharmacy here today (I hope). I wish I had gotten that cortisone shot last fall before I left CA, but I didn’t have any symptoms so I didn’t see the point. I was hoping it was cured. I have sciatica which was under control with shots every 6 months or so. It’s been over a year now, and not as bad as it used to be usually. A long ride on Wildflower can set it off, she has a lot of hip action. Or a long drive or poor posture or lifting something incorrectly. Its a dull pain 24/7 tho and effects my mood.
I have gotten $ question texts from 2 of my children about tuition payments. My ex is supposed to be covering this now, all the money I had saved for tuition is gone now and he was supposed to complete their education needs. I am not surprised by any of this but still disappointed. My divorce rears its ugly head again. I hate that feeling. I want it to be over, all the uncertainty is so unsettling. And its always when I am just beginning to be at peace again. I have no idea how everything is going to turn out for me when I am done with this trip. I was thinking of starting a horse hauling business back in the LA area, sell my paintings, publish a book on my trip…but they all seem so pie in the sky. The printing company never called me back either. I know God will take care of me and my children, I just don’t know how.
The horses seem fine, Dreamy is resting her left leg off and on tho. I have them in separate big pens, Dreamy doesn’t need Wildflower bullying her if she is not 100%.
My back is killing me. Its making me depressed. I’ve been icing it all day with a back brace over the frozen peas. I just took an alleve an advil and 10 mg of prednisone. I wish my Dr would phone in something…I found a great christian rock station on the radio and feel better already (this music is like magic for me).
Amazingly I still had a very productive day somehow anyway. Let the mares graze, painted the MA painting, a super nice vet came for my health papers (she caught a major goof on my coggins papers done in NJ, and I got them replaced already), truck serviced (all 5th wheel bolts were loose, thank God I told them to check that too), went to McDonalds (for a chocolate shake and wi-fi to upload pictures and posts to my blog), got gas, groceries. Thanks a million to Jerry (the owner here) who arranged all these errands for me in advance. Then it started raining, good, get it out of its system, I AM RIDING DREAMY TOMORROW!!!
My daily devotional talks about not being afraid and to view trials as exercised designed to develop trust in God.
I am very black today. I saw a few FaceBook posts of kids back in CA having lunch with their parents before they head back to college. Rose posted one of Emily. I miss my children so much. I should be there with her. And Teddy. The aching is pretty bad and I can’t get over it.
And my back is killing me. It makes it hard to be patient, hard to be optimistic about my future or even the day, very hard to smile.
Jerry came by and we drove over to the Otter Creek camping area. It is free camping in a beautiful setting just down the road. But standing stalls (covered tho). There are a lot of rigs there. It is primitive camping but there are toilets and a sink house. Over 100 horses can stay here. But I would never put my horses in standing stalls for days on end. It would be nice to have the camaraderie of all the other campers tho. He took me there to show me when I get there on the trail so I don’t get confused. He offered to ride after 11:30 when he gets back from taking his wife to physical therapy. But I looked at the weather and its pretty likely to rain by noon so I think I’ll head out now.
I rode Dreamy for about 2 hours, I wish I had put her front boots on, its not all deep sand after all. She was acting pretty ouchy most of the time. I want to work on a few things with her before my sister joins back up with me. Like Woah of course, not jumping stuff and staying on the trail better, she kept wandering off probably looking for better footing or grass to grab. She took me thru a narrow tree pass and bumped my knee. That was my fault for letting her, but these are things I need to fix for Liza.
I got a bit confused about how to get back from the assembly area and tied up at the bathroom where I met a woman who offered to lead me back. She took a wrong turn but we got back along the road. She was riding a Tennessee Walker so we had to trot to keep up and her horse was shod. Poor Dreamy. She knows Jerry and his wife Debra and stopped in to say hi.
Jerry came by and said that some other campers are coming in tomorrow so I have to give up the big pens for them. Tomorrow they go into the small pens or the stalls, I’m not exactly clear on this. I guess some people just booked because this wasn’t the case when I checked in.
A woman on FaceBook (with a TN walker) is going to meet me to ride tomorrow. And another one here who is here half the year and the other half in CA (quarterhorse) asked me to ride in the morning. Not sure which I am going to do.
I had a very bad day. My CA doc called in 3 days of pain meds to Walmart. He suggested going to an urgent care and asking them to write a prescription, so I did. 1st Walmart (my insurance would not go thru) then urgent care (still no insurance clearance so had to pay cash) and he wouldn’t give me anything but 5 days of muscle relaxant. How the hell does he think this is going to help a pinched sciatic nerve? To which I sat in the truck in the parking lot crying, it took quite a while to settle down. I can’t continue this trip without pain relief. I am thinking of my options:
Drive straight back to CA (if I do 6 hour days I can be there in a week). Get cortisone shots right away. Finish SHLEP (13 states-about 2 months) in the spring 2015.
Cut my camp stops to 2 or 3 nights instead of 4. Cut the meds in half and finish the trip with a lot of icing, use the tens unit and a lot of Alleve. And just cope.
Both options require contacting all the future camps to change reservations. Both end me in CA earlier eliminating the chance of WY, MT, WA being too cold if winter blows in early as it is on the east coast. Both are disappointing. I am not a quitter. (Altho I did quit my marriage). And the final destination…I don’t have a home to go home to. I have to find something I can afford, find a place for my horses. Its all so overwhelming.
There is another option: just do it as planned, finish the end of October. This gives me more time to heal and figure out what I am going to do when I get back.
What am I even doing this stupid trip for anyway? Its supposed to be healing me. Its crippling me physically. I am reminded frequently that I am ALONE! Everyone else is in groups, laughing, drinking, eating, riding. I am painting, writing, moping around in the trailer, today my ride didn’t even snap me out of it. Everything I do is solo. And I miss my friends, my mom (gone now a month?), my old life & routine, my children, I even miss my to-be-ex-husband. I am scaring myself how black I feel. I know this is depression. I recognize that. But how do I snap out of it? I feel myself sinking into a black hole. On the way back to camp I had one of those split second visions I used to frequently have: my truck slams into a brick wall. Of goes off a cliff.
My daily devotional from 8/21 said not to worry about what others think of me. I find this hard to do. What do people think of me? They probably think I am crazy and misguided. A loner. But I am none of these. I really love being with people, I yearn for it, yet I spend so much time alone, doing solitary kind of things. I have always been like this.
If I post any of this I am going to hear from Brad again about how I should just keep a private journal. So I guess I have to delete it. Or maybe I won’t.
I really miss having wi-fi and reliable cell service. The world has changed so much in my lifetime. I was thinking this as I watched the Walmart pharmacy scan a customer’s items and she swiped her card. Everything has changed and I wonder what it will be like for my children when they get old. Will they keep up with everything or will they find it strange too? I miss being able to call a provider (like Verizon or Blue Shield) and talk to a person.
The 2 pop up camper women left and 3 more showed up. They are regulars here. All 3 of them are staying in a small “cabin” the size of a work shed you get at the hardware store. They are having a blast already. They love Tommy and played with him a lot before they went off to Walmart and some restaurant they always go to here. This morning another group is coming in and I have to give up my big paddocks. They go into stalls now. Its not really such a big deal, lots of horses stay in stalls, I shouldn’t worry about it so much.
After riding Dreamy yesterday I am very worried about her soundness. It could be her being so buddy sour and not having boots on, but I still worry. She is only 14 but…where am I going to live, what’s going to happen to me, how am I going to be happy, and WHERE. I can’t stop that thought from interrupting me. I know its getting old to my readers, its very old to me.
I’m leaning towards the 3 night stay per state option. Or in some cases 2 nights. 4 nights gives me too much time to get depressed and think too much. That will get me back to CA by October 3rd if I leave AZ & NM for after I get settled in an apartment and go see my spine doctor for a cortisone shot. Or October 12th if I do them now. It saves me 13 days. I will then have only 48 days left on the road, I will have been on the road for 13 months.
My daily devotional today talks about entrusting your loved ones to me. I have a hard time doing this and I know I have to. My children are young adults. Trouble is I raised them to be dependent on us. That was a big mistake.
Well I have been up for an hour, had coffee, wrote a bit. Time to go feed the horses and move them. Its very cozy in the trailer. I haven’t had to use the space heater at all since I’ve been here. Jerry said winter is coming early, its August, it should be hot, no?
I went for a 2 hour ride on WF with Lynn, a boarder here. We walked the whole time and since she lives here half the year since 2006 we got to go on trails that are unmarked, lightly trod and beautiful, mostly in the woods. WF was relaxed for a change and stepped out nicely with front boots on. I enjoyed not having to navigate and not having my horse rushing to keep up with gaited riders, or ones that just lope off unexpectedly. Lynn is a retired art teacher and we talked about schools art programs. The other half of the year she lives in southern CA.
Then I came back and reworked my schedule for the rest of SHLEP staying at camps for 3 nights instead of 4 and adding a couple of overnights on the hauls exceeded 300 miles. Then called all the camps and the upcoming overnights giving them new dates. It seemed like an overwhelming task but its done somehow.
Then I went over how I was going to get to the next stop on the map, she said not to use gps. The threesome invited me over to their campfire and we talked about dogs mostly. They gave Tommy a split log to chew on, and a couple of hot dogs. They are a nice bunch, all from NY. They asked me all the usual questions I get. Its hard to answer them now. I am so tired and my dull aching back has slowed me down.
Cynthia at my overnight told me to take the interstates which added alot of miles, so did me missing the exit for I-86. It took me 7 hours door to door. I used the tens pack and it worked great, no significant pain.This is a very old camp in very good condition, huge grass paddocks, 30 amp service, shower/bath house and barn. Grass everywhere, and a creek running thru it. I happened to arrive the night they and their neighbors (well, the ones they like as she said) get together for a dinner party and I was invited to join them. Neil (Cynthia’s husband) is Italian and a great cook. I am now stuffed. There was so much good food to eat, I tried everything but the clams, sorry I just don’t like em. There were deviled eggs, eggplant, lasagna, home made pies and cream puffs just to name a few of my favorites. And black garlic, wow that was great. You steam garlic (that she grows of course) for 25 days.
Just prior to dinner the mares started making quite a ruckus in their huge grass pasture. Seems the flies (Cynthia’s term, mine is more like huge cockroach sized flying bees) were scaring the crap out of them. WF had blood on her legs (its easy to see since she is white there). I covered them with DEET (hoping not to get kicked in the process, they were really putting on a sustained bucking galloping show). Well they may have some welts but their legs should benefit from the running around on the soft ground, Dreamy was a little stocked up in her hind legs coming off the trailer.
Cynthia said she had heard not nice things about the camp I am heading to in PA…ugh. The website says standing stalls, but they told me on the phone I can get a box stall or use my electric corral. They also recommend shoeing your horse…I’ll boot em.
Driving so long mostly in the rain, I continued mulling over my depression and my future. Once I saw the grass here, Neil’s smile, then meeting Cynthia and all the neighbors and great food…well, I’m not depressed anymore. See I told you I need people. I am not a loner.
PS. This is the nicest overnight ever. It is so beautiful here and the people are so cool. I took a hot shower after dinner and slept well. I feel good again, thank God.
Kathy, expressing, exposing your feelings is part of dealing with them. No one is going to judge you. Keep on with your trip, get pain help where and when you can. Everyone reading your blog – and I’ve encouraged many to do so – are all there with you, waiting to hear about your rides, your horses, your thoughts. You are not really alone, just by yourself. I remember once after divorcing the 1st time, leaving family in New England and moving to Texas realizing “I really like myself” and “I’m good at whatever I want to do.” Like you I’d heard I’d never amount to much, husband telling father he should take me back. I’m still here 🙂 Keep the faith, Kathy. It is the one thing no one can take away. Safe travels.
Thanks for your support Janelle, I’m still here too, just taking a break with my kids while the trailer is getting fixed. And addressing a bunch of legal stuff which is just NOT fun. I will resume the trip in the spring, 5 more to go…
I haven’t seen any more about the next 5 states, have you done them? Would like to know where you are now.
Francie, I have been stationary for over a year now and not sure about doing the last 5. I still have a lot of leg pain if I drive more than an hour or two. I’ll be 62 soon so doing any more long hauls and horse camping solo just seems like too much work right now anyway. A partner would be awsome. I’ve been working on my book and doing all the paintings over larger in oils. I have one horse with me, Dreamy, and ride daily in the mountains here.
Oh, I am in southern California now.